What Running An Ultramarathon Taught Me About Being An Entrepreneur

What Running An Ultramarathon Taught Me About Being An Entrepreneur

The two hardest things I have done in my life are launching a startup and running an ultramarathon.

They both sound like a great adventure, require months and months of planning, but are almost always a struggle until you eventually reach the finish line. But which time you are open to doing it all again.

I’m the founder of a free task management web application called Task Pigeon and this is what I learnt about being an entrepreneur after competing in numerous ultramarathons and running thousands of kilometres in training.

From The Outside It Looks Easy

When I was running a number of people would look in on my life from the outside. They would see that I was fit and healthy and sometimes even a little bit freaked that I would run in races last 24 hours or more.

Often they would say “I wish I could do that”. This is very much like what I see and hear as an Entrepreneur. Founding a company, or more specifically, a Startup is “cool”. Everyone wants to do it.

But most people don’t want to put in the work. They see the success, but they don’t see the months and months of training (or toil) as you try and get your idea of the ground or body in shape.

Its Easy To Get Started

Anyone can start an ultramarathon. All you have to do is cross the start line and you are technically in the race.

But starting is easy, finishing is the hard part. This is true regardless of whether you are racing against yourself or going for the win. Everyone, no matter how good, always faces at least one moment of truth in a race. It would be easy to quit. It would be easy to stop. It’s much harder to keep going.

As an Entrepreneur I see many parallels. It is easy to create a website, to have a landing page, to come up with an idea. Hell, depending on where you live or what skills you have it can even be easy to build an MVP of what you want to sell.

But finding customers, growing the business, bringing on external funding and putting up with earning potentially little to no money until the fly wheel gets going is damn hard.

Even then success is not guaranteed. Plenty of “profitable” businesses never make it. They just can’t scale enough or keep up with competitors.

Nothing Can Prepare You For The Real Thing, Like The Real Thing

No amount of training or preparation is going to prepare you 100% for a real race. Things like pacing, understanding how your body deals with the stress of running that long and the little demon in your head telling you to quit are all unique.

You can only truly know what it is like to run an ultramarathon by actually running one. The same thing is true for entrepreneurship.

I don’t care what you say. You could read 100 books on business, be an economics professor and be able to calculate every possible cost down to the last penny but running a business for a couple of months will beat all of those “book smarts”.

When You Finally Finish You Realise It Was The Journey That Matters

Eventually every race comes to an end. One step in front of another adds up and soon enough you have covered the required distance.

Your body hurts, your minds confused, but shortly after sitting down you are totally open to doing it all again. You almost finish it hadn’t quite finished yet.

What you realise at this point in time is, that it is the journey that matters most, not the destination. The same is true in business. People who are born entrepreneurs love to create and build. When that comes to an end (either if the company dies or is sold) its hard for them to resist doing it all again.

This post was written by Paul Towers a 3x Entrepreneur and the founder of Task Pigeon. Paul has also competed in numerous ultramarathons and skymarathons in both Australia and the USA.

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